I skimmed over the plot of the last chapter, which is good, because the next was so short that I can make up for the omissions and still not have to trouble anyone with heavy reading this time round.

It ended with a couple of revelations. The first was that someone in the team must be a traitor. This deduction was made due to the impossibility of the American forces finding Hamilcar’s Refuge as hot on their heels as they did. This raises the possibility that Stretch the Israeli, the latecomer to the team  – who’s mutually (and rather dodgily reillised) racist antagonism with Pooh Bear the Arab makes him the far-too-obvious culprit – may be the culprit.

If I felt even the slightest attachment to the narrative I might be interested in reading on to discover whether Reilly is clumsily setting up a double-bluff by having one of the others be doing the dirty instead (my guess would be Air Monster as he’s hardly raised his head so far), or whether he is simply painting this guy (and himself to a certain degree) as pointlessly racist so we won’t mind when West blows him away after all.

How much more I shall be reading will shortly become the subject of more attention.

The second reveal was of the team’s next move. During the escape West manages to take photographs of the vital secret messages hidden on the Capstone Pieces, so the plot can lumber on towards its next set piece. Unfortunately these messages fail to provide any workable clues when translated, so West hatches a plan to recruit the world’s leading Capstone Piece Expert. As someone says, maybe they should have done that sooner.

The big twist, which the following chapter deals with in a mere fourteen pages, is that this expert has been a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay for several years – so the team prepare to bust him out! However, what strikes me as a little odd is that this figure is no victim of injustice – he is called Mullah Mustapha Zaeed and is, apparently, a clinically insane psychotic terrorist qualified teacher of fundamentalist Islam assassin – feel free to clean up that string of words in whatever way you like.

So this means that West and Co. are not just in the business of dooming the globe to a short period of devastating climactic disasters, on the grounds that the alternative – allowing America or Europe to “rule the world” via the power of ancient Egyptian sun magic – would be worse, a proposition which would probably earn them a place in a padded cell if they mentioned it publicly; but that in order to achieve this dubious goal they are willing to liaise with terrorists. Ethical nose-dive there then.

Today’s chapter, “The Battle of Guantanamo Bay”, is pretty straightforward. The jumbo jet flies straight into Cuba, dropping off West (and Zoe, although she only seems to be involved so she can wear a “tight form-fitting bodysuit” that “brought out the best in her slender figure” revealing that she “was beautiful and fit“, so I’ll not mention her again) wearing the same little winged-backpack he used in Tunisia and lands in the base. While the Americans are distracted by it (more to follow) West blows the roof off Zaeed’s cell with Semtex, offers him a get out of jail free card, then flies his swivel-eyed prize back to the jumbo and they all escape without so much as a scratch. Tah-dah.

I have to congratulate Reilly for resisting the temptation to load Gitmo up with Ancient Cuban booby-traps, but the brevity with which “the most heavily fortified military base in the world” is penetrated and fled from rather shows what happens to his imagination when he is forced to abandon his fave subject. I’m only going to detail one thing about the big distraction scheme that allows West to do his ethically questionable thing. Just after he jumps out of the moving plane we are told that the rest of the team are ready in the Halicarnassus’ weapons turrets –

Their six-barrelled miniguns were currently loaded with super-lethal 7.62mm armour-piercing tracer rounds–but they had special instructions from West as to what to use later, when the battle got really hot.

Did I mention that stupid name of the plane before? Well it doesn’t matter, but that’s what it is. A few pages later, when they have landed and 3,000 US troops go pouring out to surround the plane –

…a withering volley of gunfire erupted from the Halicarnassus‘s four revolving gun turrets.

The volley of bullets slammed into the Recon Marines, sent them flying backwards through the air, slamming them into trees and vehicles.

But they weren’t dead.

The bullets were rubber bullets, like those West and his team had used in the quarry in Sudan.

West’s instructions to his team had been simple: you only kill someone who wants to kill you. You never ever kill men who are just doing their job.

This is pretty rich coming from West, as in the previous chapter the villain finds one of his drivers and four guards “shot to bits. Their blood covered the walls of the hold. All had got their guns out–but not a single one of them had got a round off“. All in a day’s work for Jack West Jnr. Slaughterer of men just doing their job.

As for right now, all that flying rubber is the sum total of gunfire that takes place, which seems to suggest that those armour-piercing bullets were only in the guns before they landed to give them something to hurry over after they landed. Or maybe to make it appear that the goodies were going to ruthlessly massacre thousands of wholesome American soldiers in their heroic quest to free a fundamentalist terrorist.

I can’t help thinking that Matthew reilly didn’t think too deeply about all this before he started typing. And it’s for this reason that…

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